The Rundown: Cubs Bats Fall Silent Again, Báez May Hit IL, MLB Near 70% Vaccination Rate, Manfred Believes League Can Avoid Work Stoppage
“But my words, like silent raindrops fell
In the wells of silence.” – Paul Simon, The Sound of Silence
The Cubs could muster just two hits and one walk with 13 strikeouts against Atlanta pitchers Ian Anderson, A.J. Minter, and Jacob Webb. That’s the recipe for a loss against any team and it’s also why the Braves beat Chicago 5-0 last night. Anderson was on all night and Cubs’ batters had no punch whatsoever. It didn’t help that Javier Báez (hamstring) was absent entirely and Kris Bryant was relegated to pinch-hitting duties (right biceps).
Seven strikeouts through 4 IP for @MeLlamoTrevor! 🔥#CubTogether pic.twitter.com/XNUSRmyxpO
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) April 28, 2021
- The Good: Cubs starter Trevor Williams struck out a career-high eight batters in five innings of work, holding the Braves to just two runs.
- The Bad: David Bote was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts and saw his batting average drop to .175.
- The Ugly: Ian Happ was 0-for-3 with two punchouts and still has but one extra base hit and one RBI on the entire season. His slash line is a repulsive .139/.303/.181 through 90 plate appearances. However, Happ’s BABIP is .214, indicating there is some bad luck involved.
Best to just drown the memories of last night’s game, as well as our sorrows, because that’s about as hideous a performance as you’ll ever see.
Cubs News & Notes
- Ugly Stat of the Day: The Cubs were shut out for the fourth time in 23 games, matching their total for all of 2020. Their three other shutouts came at the hands of the Brewers.
- David Ross did not rule out the possibility of Báez landing on the injured list, especially given his importance over the next several months.
- Cubs’ players feel fortunate they’re not 10 games out of first place given their slow start.
- Willson Contreras believes Nico Hoerner needs to be in the lineup every game.
- Bryant’s trademark metric (launch angle) has regressed this season, though that’s not a bad thing. The third baseman is on pace for a 9.5 fWAR.
- Williams was outstanding last night, but the bullpen, particularly Brandon Workman, was off again.
- The minor league baseball season will commence soon and for the first time since 2019, Cubs fans will be able to follow some of their favorite prospects. Our own Todd Johnson has some of the quickly rising names you should keep your eye on this year.
Apropos of Nothing
Best umpire name of all-time? Harry Hunter Wendelstedt III, who now owns an umpiring school. Perhaps Hunter the Third would consider tutelage services for Angel Hernandez.
Climbing the Ladder
“I wonder how a battery feels when it pours electricity into a non-conductor?” – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
- Games Played: 23
- Total Plate Appearances: 839
- Total Strikeouts: 237
- Strikeout Rate: 28.2%
- Team Batting Average: .206
Odds & Sods
Apparently the Dodgers employ ninjas, adept at not-so-stealthily avoiding baseballs.
Always be prepared. pic.twitter.com/1rb1SxVyZq
— Cut4 (@Cut4) April 28, 2021
How About That!
In honor of the non-no-no (is that a thing?) that Madison Bumgarner threw on Sunday, the Diamondbacks have reduced ticket prices to $14 for home games this weekend. The significance of the price is that Zac Gallen also threw a one-hitter in the first game of that doubleheader.
Arizona catcher Carson Kelly has started a petition to have MLB count Bumgarner’s gem as an official no-hitter.
High fastballs are the one known weakness of Angels outfielder Mike Trout, but he’s made an adjustment and is now dominating pitchers who come in high and hard.
Rob Manfred said Major League Baseball would consider expansion fees in the range of $2.2 billion for new franchises, though there are no current plans to add teams.
Manfred also indicated that 70% of the league’s Tier 1 employees have started their COVID-19 vaccination regimen.
The commissioner is also somewhat optimistic that a work stoppage after this season can be avoided.
The Tigers committed five errors in the first 5 innings of last night’s game against the White Sox and still managed to win.
Tuesday’s Three Stars
- Vladimir Guerrero Jr. – Toronto’s first baseman had three home runs and seven RBI on a 3-for-4 night, the bulk of that damage against Max Scherzer of all people, as the Blue Jays downed the Nationals 9-5.
- Ian Anderson – The Braves starter combined with two relievers to two-hit the Cubs. Anderson allowed a single, walked one, and struck out eight Chicago batters.
- Franmil Reyes – Cleveland’s DH hit two dingers last night in a 7-4 win over the Twins.
Take Me Out to the Ball Game
I’m not a fan of painfully slow baseball, three-outcome plate appearances, and extra-inning games, but I’m less a fan of the way the game is trending.
One thing to keep an eye on: Most minor league scheduling this year will consist of six-game series followed by an off day. It’s largely pandemic-driven, but could signify future changes at the major league level, too. That type of scheduling cuts travel mileage by 28-56% and greatly reduces related expenses.
Baseball America has a list of all minor league rule changes for this season, many of them experimental to see if they should be implemented at the major league level in future seasons.
Declaring ties may be better than this extra-inning silliness.
The Pioneer League has announced rules it will use for its first year as a Partner League. Instead of extra innings there will be a HR derby to settle ties. Each team can use a designated pinch hitter and a designated pinch runner. pic.twitter.com/0xLnUJ4s1V
— JJ Cooper (@jjcoop36) April 27, 2021
They Said It
- “I don’t think any of us feel like we’ve hit our strides, so to speak, but I think it’s still early to be talking about any kind of stride. We’re fortuate we’re nt 10 games out of first place right now. That’s a positive thing. We understand how quickly things can change” – Jason Heyward
- “[Anderson] looked really sharp. I thought the changeup was the difference-maker, especially to our righties. I don’t think we’ve seen too many guys that are able to do that.” – David Ross
- “I think we’re around 70% [vaccination rate]. The clubs have worked really hard with their players. We’re continuing to press to try to get everybody up above that kind of 85 [percent] number that we think is so important.” – Rob Manfred
Wednesday Walk Up Song
A Change Would Do You Good by Sheryl Crow – The Cubs really need to find a way to make more consistent contact.